Sometimes, people finally feel financially stable enough for a gray divorce. Perhaps, they've reached a certain age and are ready for something different. Still, others have emotional realizations when planning how they want to spend the rest of their lives. Each issue that can lead to the late demise distinguishes divorce after 50, otherwise termed gray divorce.
How are gray divorces different?
While there are no set guidelines to calculate alimony across all divorce cases, Pennsylvania courts consider several factors, including the age of the spouses. When couples are older, it's very likely that either or both spouses no longer work or haven't worked for some time. Spousal support requires careful calculation to ensure each spouse can maintain a similar quality of life post-split so it bears a special meaning in gray divorce.
There are three types of support:
- Temporary alimony is in place throughout the divorce proceedings to ensure support until the case has been decided upon
- Rehabilitative alimony lasts for a period of time after the divorce to help the less-earning spouse financially
- Permanent alimony states that one spouse will pay the other regularly over a period of time
What type of alimony can I expect from a divorce after 50?
When marriages have lasted decades, courts generally award permanent support. Unlike younger couples who divorce, seniors typically don't need support to raise their children or re-enter the workforce. However, they need enough funds to support themselves throughout their remaining years. And that takes on a major meaning for a gray divorce.
For example, consider a couple divorcing in their sixties who were married for over 30 years with the wife having a college education. In addition, she enjoyed meaningful work experience earlier in life but had no work experience in the last 20 years. Being in her sixties, she is unlikely to work again or possibly land a well-paying job. Moreover, her former spouse may not be able to work for much longer either. It's a key component of gray divorce's meaning because these are important considerations that make support calculation unique in divorce after 50.
Retirement funds and assets - which one?
Whether the divorce was a fault or no fault, retirement funds and assets are likely split evenly. The understanding is that each partner likely contributed to the retirement fund in their own way. That's true whether they were working or whether they were home raising the family so the other spouse could work. This conclusion seems positive in terms of fairness, but the couple may have thought they had plenty of money to retire. That is until the retirement gets cut in half. And that can be a major consideration of a gray divorce's meaning.
Sometimes, one spouse may opt to take a larger share of another asset instead of the retirement fund or avoid alimony payments. In these cases, the spouse who did not contribute directly to the account could take, for example, cash or the marital home.
However, this option isn't always wise for older couples. Since they likely are no longer working, it's more important that they secure a steady stream of funds to support themselves. In addition, the present-day value of an asset may not hold. The value could decrease, or taxes and maintenance costs could impact the overall value.
Other considerations and their meaning to a gray divorce
With gray divorces, a few crucial elements must be part of planning for life after separation.
Health insurance is another meaningful part of gray divorce, especially when the spouses may be retired or planning to retire. One working spouse is typically required to keep the other under their health insurance until age 65. At that point, their former spouse must sign up for Medicare.
Say the working spouse remains under their company-sponsored health plan post-divorce. Then, their company would have its own rules about what coverage, if any, a former spouse would receive. This consideration requires close attention during a gray divorce to ensure someone doesn't end up without health coverage.
Estate plans have major meaning in gray divorce. Any previously documented plans likely listed a spouse as the sole beneficiary. As a result, estate plans should be reviewed and revised to ensure the proper heirs and guardians are designated.
Divorce is difficult at any age
When it comes to gray divorce and its meaning, it can be especially trying for couples after 50. It requires careful consideration. Spouses deserve what they want most of all: a promising future. Contact a divorce lawyer near you in the Bucks County area for more guidance.
High Swartz has an outstanding reputation relating to family law, including divorce. Our law offices in Doylestown, PA, and Norristown, PA, can support your divorce after 50. So, give our law firm a call. We're here to help. You can read more about gray divorce here.